Oscars 2016: Predictions and Analysis

The 88th edition of the Academy Awards, honoring the best of English-language films exhibited in Los Angeles and New York City in 2015, will be broadcast live by the ABC network on February 28, 2016 at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, California at 5:30pm PST/ 8:30PM EST. After 10 years, stage comedian, film actor, director, writer, voice artist, and producer Chris Rock will be hosting the event for the second time. 


There has been a considered imbalance in the nominations process that triggered the mercurial non-inclusion of persons of color two years in a row. Following the boycott spearheaded by actress Jada Pinkett Smith and filmmaker Spike Lee, the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag campaign seemingly prompted a rectification effort of AMPAS president Cheryl Boone Isaacs by throwing a decision to restructure the membership and overhaul the tenure policy of the 88-year old motion picture academy, although, historically, not unprecedented. A year before Isaacs took the presidency, the Academy has been revealed to comprise 94% white, of which 77% are male voters. As a response, Isaacs invited 400 new members, who are younger and belonging to more diverse backgrounds (NPR, 2014). Whoopi Goldberg, a one-time Academy Award winner, defended AMPAS being not racist at all, stating that no matter how many Asians, Latinos, and African-Americans are filled up in the membership, nothing is going to change if there aren’t enough black people (cast) on screen. Some of the non-white measured to have been strong contenders were Will Smith (Lead Actor, Concussion), Idris Elba (Supporting Actor, Beasts of No Nations), Michael B. Jordan (Lead Actor, Creed), and F Gary Gray and Ice Cube (filmmakers, Straight Outta Compton). 

Box Office Performance of Best Picture Nominees

The Martian (dir. Ridley Scott) is the highest grossing Best Picture nominee of the year, followed closely by George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road. Alejandro G. Inarrittu’s The Revenant propelled by the weight of the pressers surrounding the film, earns at least $ 70M more after receiving its 12 nominations, including the frontrunner headlines of Leonardo DiCaprio for his very much anticipated first Academy Award 23 years since What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? (dir. Lasse Hallstrom). Lenny Abrahamson’s Room gets steady in the last place, but its total earnings of $11 M already has a change against the profit. 


DiCaprio has just won his first SAG award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role. Remember that the last 11 winners in this category went on to win an Academy Award. Either he will destroy that feat or win his first and complete the dozen. Leo’s win has banked in an unprecedented 20 Best Actor wins (out of 34 nominations) from regional and national critics organizations, including important precursors such as the Golden Globes and the Critics Choice. While it seems almost impossible to rally an upset, the final voting which begins February 12 and ends 11 days thereafter, may still take a chance on Bryan Cranston (Trumbo) whose cumbersome appeal to the voters is the fact that voters are more considerate to performers who are playing characters relevant to the industry (Trumbo was a well-loved, albeit blacklisted, screenwriter during the 1950s investigation by the House of Un-American Activities Committee). Somehow, it wasn’t the case for Michael Keaton (Birdman) last year who lost to Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) even after winning at least 80% of the precursor awards, fumbling only at the SAG, which the latter went on to collect very much leading to his Oscar victory. 

In all honesty, predicting the Best Film winner is as easy as grade school math. You take the number of wins from precursors, multiply it by 2 with a Golden Globe victory, then add the number of Oscar nominations = “the most important film of the year”, but ≠ the most cinematically accomplished film of the year. Let’s take three for example: Spotlight, The Revenant, and Mad Max Fury Road. Spotlight has been voted Best Film of the year by at least 10 individual critics, 24 film organizations, a 95% universal acclaim aggregated by both Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes, but failed to score a single win at the Golden Globes and only mustered 6 Oscar nominations. On the other hand, The Revenant has only managed to win 1 out of its 20 nominations from critics organizations, with favorable acclaims of 80% from both Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes, yet it still managed to win Best Film and Best Director at the Golden Globes and received 12 nominations at the Oscars. The real contest-breaker is actually Mad Max Fury Road having been voted Best Film by 21 individual critics, 11 film organizations, although it didn’t win a Golden Globe it managed to score a Best Director award at the Critics Choice, and earned 10 Oscar nominations. The Martian’s Best Film-Comedy win at the Golden Globes is a joke and would most definitely hurt its Oscar campaign, politically speaking. It did manage to scoop 2 wins and a couple of 2nd placers, although it has more Oscar nominations than Spotlight and the rest of the other nominees. 

By the numbers and expert judgment, here’s our 2016 Academy Awards winners (in bold text) prediction:

Best Picture 

The Big Short – Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, and Jeremy Kleiner 
Bridge of Spies – Steven Spielberg, Marc Platt, and Kristie Macosko Krieger 
Brooklyn – Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey 
Mad Max: Fury Road – Doug Mitchell and George Miller 
The Martian – Simon Kinberg, Ridley Scott, Michael Schaefer, and Mark Huffam 
The Revenant – Arnon Milchan, Steve Golin, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Mary Parent, and Keith Redmon 
Room – Ed Guiney 
Spotlight – Michael Sugar, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin, and Blye Pagon Faust 

Best Director 

Adam McKay – The Big Short 
George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road 
Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant 
Lenny Abrahamson – Room 
Tom McCarthy – Spotlight 

Best Actor 

Bryan Cranston – Trumbo as Dalton Trumbo 
Matt Damon – The Martian as Mark Watney 
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant as Hugh Glass 
Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs as Steve Jobs 
Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl as Lili Elbe / Einar Wegener 

Best Actress 

Cate Blanchett – Carol as Carol Aird 
Brie Larson – Room as Joy "Ma" Newsome 
Jennifer Lawrence – Joy as Joy Mangano 
Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years as Kate Mercer 
Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn as Eilis Lacey 

Best Supporting Actor 

Christian Bale – The Big Short as Michael Burry 
Tom Hardy – The Revenant as John Fitzgerald 
Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight as Michael Rezendes 
Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies as Rudolf Abel 
Sylvester Stallone – Creed as Rocky Balboa 

Best Supporting Actress 

Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight as Daisy Domergue 
Rooney Mara – Carol as Therese Belivet 
Rachel McAdams – Spotlight as Sacha Pfeiffer 
Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl as Gerda Wegener 
Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs as Joanna Hoffman 

Best Original Screenplay 

Bridge of Spies – Matt Charman, Joel Coen, and Ethan Coen 
Ex Machina – Alex Garland 
Inside Out – Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, and Ronnie del Carmen 
Spotlight – Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer 
Straight Outta Compton – Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff, S. Leigh Savidge, andAlan Wenkus 

Best Adapted Screenplay 

The Big Short – Adam McKay and Charles Randolph from The Big Short by Michael Lewis 
Brooklyn – Nick Hornby from Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín 
Carol – Phyllis Nagy from The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith 
The Martian – Drew Goddard from The Martian by Andy Weir 
Room – Emma Donoghue from Room by Emma Donoghue 

Best Animated Feature Film 

Anomalisa – Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson, and Rosa Tran 
Boy & the World – Alê Abreu 
Inside Out – Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera 
Shaun the Sheep Movie – Mark Burton and Richard Starzak 
When Marnie Was There – Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Yoshiaki Nishimura 

Best Foreign Language Film 

Embrace of the Serpent (Colombia) in Spanish – Ciro Guerra 
Mustang (France) in Turkish – Deniz Gamze Ergüven 
Son of Saul (Hungary) in Hungarian – László Nemes 
Theeb (Jordan) in Arabic – Naji Abu Nowar 
A War (Denmark) in Danish – Tobias Lindholm 

Best Documentary – Feature 

Amy – Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees 
Cartel Land – Matthew Heineman and Tom Yellin 
The Look of Silence – Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen 
What Happened, Miss Simone? – Liz Garbus, Amy Hobby, and Justin Wilkes 
Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom – Evgeny Afineevsky and Den Tolmor 

Best Documentary – Short Subject 

Body Team 12 – David Darg and Bryn Mooser 
Chau, Beyond the Lines – Courtney Marsh and Jerry Franck 
Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah – Adam Benzine 
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness – Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy 
Last Day of Freedom – Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman 

Best Live Action Short Film 

Ave Maria – Eric Dupont and Basil Khalil 
Day One – Henry Hughes 
Everything Will Be Okay – Patrick Vollrath 
Shok – Jamie Donoughue 
Stutterer – Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage 

Best Animated Short Film 

Bear Story – Pato Escala Pierart and Gabriel Osorio Vargas 
Prologue – Imogen Sutton and Richard Williams 
Sanjay's Super Team – Nicole Paradis Grindle and Sanjay Patel 
We Can't Live Without Cosmos – Konstantin Bronzit 
World of Tomorrow – Don Hertzfeldt 

Best Original Score 

Bridge of Spies – Thomas Newman 
Carol – Carter Burwell 
The Hateful Eight – Ennio Morricone 
Sicario – Jóhann Jóhannsson 
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – John Williams 

Best Original Song 

"Earned It" from Fifty Shades of Grey – Music and Lyrics by Ahamad Balshe (Belly), Stephan Moccio, Jason "Daheala" Quenneville, Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd) 
"Manta Ray" from Racing Extinction – Music by J. Ralph, Lyrics by Antony Hegarty 
"Simple Song #3" from Youth – Music and Lyrics by David Lang 
"Til It Happens to You" from The Hunting Ground – Music and Lyrics by Lady Gagaand Diane Warren 
"Writing's on the Wall" from Spectre – Music and Lyrics by Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith 

Best Sound Editing 

Mad Max: Fury Road – Mark A. Mangini and David White 
The Martian – Oliver Tarney 
The Revenant – Martin Hernández and Lon Bender 
Sicario – Alan Robert Murray 
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Matthew Wood and David Acord 

Best Sound Mixing 

Bridge of Spies – Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom, and Drew Kunin 
Mad Max: Fury Road – Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff, and Ben Osmo 
The Martian – Paul Massey, Mark Taylor, and Mac Ruth 
The Revenant – Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Randy Thom, and Chris Duesterdiek 
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio, and Stuart Wilson 

Best Production Design 

Bridge of Spies – Rena DeAngelo, Bernhard Henrich, and Adam Stockhausen 
The Danish Girl – Michael Standish and Eve Stewart 
Mad Max: Fury Road – Colin Gibson and Lisa Thompson 
The Martian – Celia Bobak and Arthur Max 
The Revenant – Jack Fisk and Hamish Purdy 

Best Cinematography 

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

Best Makeup and Hairstyling 

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared – Love Larson and Eva von Bahr 
Mad Max: Fury Road – Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega, and Damian Martin 
The Revenant – Siân Grigg, Duncan Jarman, and Robert Pandini 

Best Costume Design 

Carol – Sandy Powell 
Cinderella – Sandy Powell 
The Danish Girl – Paco Delgado 
Mad Max: Fury Road – Jenny Beavan 
The Revenant – Jacqueline West 

Best Film Editing 

The Big Short – Hank Corwin 
Mad Max: Fury Road – Margaret Sixel 
The Revenant – Stephen Mirrione 
Spotlight – Tom McArdle 
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey 

Best Visual Effects 

Ex Machina – Mark Williams Ardington, Sara Bennett, Paul Norris, and Andrew Whitehurst 
Mad Max: Fury Road – Andrew Jackson, Dan Oliver, Andy Williams, and Tom Wood 
The Martian – Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence, Richard Stammers, and Steven Warner 
The Revenant – Richard McBride, Matt Shumway, Jason Smith, and Cameron Waldbauer 
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Chris Corbould, Roger Guyett, Paul Kavanagh, and Neal Scanlan 

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