Our 2016 Academy Award Predictions

Best Documentary- Short Subject

Body Team 12
Chau, beyond the Lines
Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
Last Day of Freedom

I did some reading.

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: N/A
The Oscar Goes to…: Claude Lanzmann: Spectre of the Shoah

Let’s get these no clue ones out of the way first.

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: N/A
The Oscar Goes to…: Chau, beyond the lines

Best Documentary- Feature

Amy
Cartel Land
The Look of Silence
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

For the first time ever, I saw a movie nominated for Best Documentary! Amy was great, so I’m really pulling for it.

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: Amy
The Oscar Goes to…: Amy

Amy took home a BAFTA and I personally enjoyed it. Best of luck to it tonight.

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: Amy
The Oscar Goes to…: Amy

amy_winehouse1-xlarge

Best Live Action Short Film

Ave Maria
Day One
Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)
Shok
Stutterer

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: N/A
The Oscar Goes to…: Stutterer

Religious themes are always powerful.

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: N/A
The Oscar Goes to…: Ave Maria

Best Animated Short Film

Bear Story
Prologue
Sanjay’s Super Team
We Can’t Live without Cosmos
World of Tomorrow

Again, couldn’t really tell you much here.

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: N/A
The Oscar Goes to…: World of Tomorrow

Who doesn’t like animals, I guess?

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: N/A
The Oscar Goes to…: Bear Story

Best Foreign Language Film

Embrace of the Serpent
Mustang
Son of Saul
Theeb
A War

I think this is the last of the categories I have absolutely no clue about.

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: N/A
The Oscar Goes to…: Son of Saul

The Academy and any Holocaust drama. We all know the relationship.

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: N/A
The Oscar Goes to…: Son of Saul

Best Animated Feature

Anomalisa
Boy and the World
Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep Movie
When Marnie Was There

I think I remember proclaiming “Pixar is back” after watching Inside Out. It was a charming, emotional adventure with an excellent story and great voice acting. It felt like vintage Pixar, though that was ruined until The Good Dinosaur came out… Regardless, Inside Out has the story and poignancy to be one of Pixar’s most memorable films, right up there with Toy Story and Up.

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: Inside Out
The Oscar Goes to…: Inside out

Pixar! Get your award polish out of wherever you’ve been keeping it since Cars 2! In all seriousness, Inside Out was a welcome return to form as it really showed off just how dynamic a single film with enough genuine care could be (I can only count on one hand which films have had friends crying and laughing within the same two hours and all of them are Pixar features). Well done, Pixar. More of this please.

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: Inside Out
The Oscar Goes to…: Inside Out

inside out 4

Best Original Score

Bridge of Spies
Carol
The Hateful Eight
Sicario
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Admittedly, I have yet to see Quentin Tarantino’s Western epic but everything indicates that it will take home Best Original Score. John Williams’ return to Star Wars was epic, and definitely my favorite string of compositions just because of the novelty of the music and how it made me nostalgic, but I don’t anticipate it winning. Look for Ennio Morricone to take home the gold for The Hateful Eight.

Shoulda Been Here: Inside Out
I Would Vote For: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Oscar Goes to…: The Hateful Eight

I know the Academy is too high falutin for Star Wars but come on, there’s a universal appeal when those chords thunder and that title bursts on to the screen (It even earned applause in the theatre I was in). John Williams said that continuing the Star Wars score was like finishing up a letter to an old friend: he’s stepped right back into the universe and his return has been exultant as hell.

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Oscar Goes to…: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

 

Best Original Song

“Earned It”, Fifty Shades of Grey
“Manta Ray”, Racing Extinction
“Simple Song #3”, Youth
“Til It Happens To You”, The Hunting Ground
“Writing’s On The Wall”, Spectre

This is actually a very interesting category. The Weeknd and Sam Smith both have the big name songs, with “Earned It” and “Writing on the Wall” respectively, both of which definitely have a shot at winning because of the magnitude of their names and the popularity of the movies they were featured in. That being said, Lady Gaga’s song is the best one, and probably the one that will appeal to Oscar voters the most. Plus she’s Lady Gaga…

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: Till it Happens to You
The Oscar Goes to…: Till it Happens to You

Wait, the Weeknd is up for something? That’s awesome! Too bad it came tethered to a terrible movie. Next year, buddy. Anyway, Gaga is always good at banging out her work from the heart (Say what you want about her work but at least you know it’s her work) and “Till it Happens to You” proves to be a powerful anthem on sexual assault and a deep coda to the messages of the documentary it came with.

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: “Writing’s on the Wall”
The Oscar Goes to…: Till it Happens to You

Best Sound Editing

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

I’ve finally figured out the difference between Sound Editing and Sound Mixing! Editing is the creation of new sounds and Mixing is literally the mesh of all different kinds of sounds that the movie features. Ok… maybe I don’t actually know the difference. This one is a toss up between Mad Max and The Revenant, but I think the scale will tip in the favor of The Revenant. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mad Max gets it though.

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: The Revenant
The Oscar Goes to…: The Revenant

I really never have a terrible amount of commentary on sound but I’ll do my best: I think Mad Max had a lot of chaos that was most likely tough to work around in the booth. However, it turned out to be a terrifically loud film. Anyways, sound is indeed usually a shot in the dark so Revenant may indeed bring it home but I do think Fury Road is the safer pick, if not for its own sheer volume.

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: Mad Max: Fury Road
The Oscar Goes to…: Mad Max: Fury Road

 

mad max 1

Best Sound Mixing

Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian
The Revenant 
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Sound Mixing only tends to split in years where there are movies based around music, like Whiplash last year, Les Miserables in 2012, and Slumdog Millionaire in 2008. Otherwise they are usually the same. Since I went with The Revenant for Sound Editing, I’m going to stick with it for Sound Mixing. But like I said before, I could easily see Mad Max running the table and winning both of them. 

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: The Revenant
The Oscar Goes to…: The Revenant

It’s okay, you can look up what sound mixing is. I’ll wait right here.

Got it? Good. Anyways Revenant is a well-oiled, lean machine and boy howdy does it make sure all of its sounds work in conjunction with one another. On top of that, Revenant took home several audio work awards in BAFTA a few weeks ago so I’m also really just going off that as well.

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: The Revenant
The Oscar Goes to…: The Revenant

Best Production Design

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

Spoiler alert: all the design categories are going to go to Mad Max. The Production manager is the official who overlooks all aspects of set design, costume design, etc… Basically everything visual. What made Mad Max incredible was the beautiful design that created this post-apocalyptical universe. I could see this slipping to The Revenant, but I’m gonna stick with my guns here.

Shoulda Been Here: Spotlight
I Would Vote For: Mad Max: Fury Road
The Oscar Goes to…: Mad Max: Fury Road

Yeah, strap into your crazy, over the top vehicle because Fury Road’s got a good part of this show locked. If you were a total believer in totally exclusively marching forward with CGI and computerized special effects than damned if Mad Max didn’t show you the light: these set pieces are huge and ridiculous. I think the Academy will very well see we’ll probably never get a movie of Max’s scale for years.

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: Mad Max: Fury Road
The Oscar Goes to…: Mad Max: Fury Road

 

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Mad Max: Fury Road
The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed out
the Window and Disappeared
The Revenant

Shocker: Another tight race between The Revenant and Mad Max! While The Revenant does do a great job of transforming Leo, I think that Mad Max has this one in the bag. From the character of Immortan Joe to Nicholas Hoult, Fury Road’s makeup and hairstyling is easily the best this year.

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: Mad Max: Fury Road
The Oscar Goes to…: Mad Max: Fury Road

Halfway through Fury Road, I leaned over to one of my friends and said “Man, you’ve got to respect the actors that caked that sh** on”. I meant it from the bottom of my heart but it’s also a deep compliment to those in charge of styling and makeup for the movie who (pretty obviously) trusted their actors and let their creativity run absolutely wild. The professional critic speaking to you did not even know that the female lead was Charlize Theron until halfway through. Yeah.

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: Mad Max: Fury Road
The Oscar Goes to…: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Costume Design

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

This is where it gets interesting. I know I said Mad Max would win all the design categories, but I’m just feeling an upset coming on. Legendary costume designer Sandy Powell was nominated for both Cinderella and Carol, and could actually win for either. Mad Max obviously has a great shot. I’m just feeling like The Danish Girl comes out of nowhere and surprises people on this one .

Shoulda Been Here: Bridge of Spies
I Would Vote For: Mad Max: Fury Road
The Oscar Goes to…: The Danish Girl

Yeah, Mad Max is pretty set for all these aesthetic categories and for good reason: it pours its energy into this slambang, upside universe that stands somewhere between Wacky Races, the original Max films and classic dystopian posturing. The creators of Fury Road recognized that environment is derived just as much from the look of its characters as it is from setting and ran from there. The results are beautiful.

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: Mad Max: Fury Road
The Oscar Goes to…: Mad Max: Fury Road

 

Best Film Editing

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

Whattaya know: another tight race between The Revenant and Mad Max. Mad Max’s furious pacing can be attributed to its excellent, skin tight editing, giving it a texture that is unique and interesting. The Revenant on the other hand is filled with long, stretched out shots that extend the depth of the film. I think Mad Max gets it, but again, it could easily go the other way.

Shoulda Been Here: Sicario
I Would Vote For: The Revenant
The Oscar Goes to…: Mad Max: Fury Road

This film’s insane. Insane is ridiculously hard to articulate into film. That is all.

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: Mad Max: Fury Road
The Oscar Goes to…: Mad Max: Fury Road

 

star wars 6

Best Visual Effects

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

I think this one is more of a race between Star Wars and Mad Max, rather than the latter and The Revenant. Star Wars is obviously a helluva work of art, with incredible visual effects. That being said, it is very likely that the Academy will give the award to a film like Mad Max, since it has more merit than an action film. With that said, I would be more than thrilled if Star Wars wins.

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Oscar Goes to…: Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max is some of the best action I have seen on the big screen and will probably ever see. It’s an unabashedly big and bold film bolstered well by the fact that its special effects blend in well with its extremely well done practical ones. However, I believe those special effects are few and far between which actually penalizes it in this category which means I’m turning this one over to Abrams’s team which most likely leaned more on green screen and CGI pretty deftly (Especially coming off the heels of Lucas’s phoney, Pixar-esque animated world for the prequels.)..

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: Mad Max: Fury Road
The Oscar Goes to…: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

revenant 1

Best Cinematography 

Carol
The Hateful Eight
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant 
Spotlight

Emmanuel Lubezki is an absolute beast. He is on track to win Best Cinematography for the third consecutive year, following up Gravity and Birdman with another incredible job in The Revenant. The prolonged nature of the shots in The Revenant extends the brutality of everything that happens to Glass, the most notable scene being the infamous bear mauling scene. Lubezki is incredible with the camera, single handedly making The Revenant one of the most visceral films that I’ve seen in awhile. Mad Max could take this, but I think it’s very unlikely. The only thing stopping Lubezki is the fact that he’s won this two straight years.

Shoulda Been Here: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I Would Vote For: The Revenant
The Oscar Goes to…: The Revenant

We’ll get more into the power of the extended shot when we get to the directing category but, for now, let me just pat cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki on the back for what is sure to be his hat trick. Lubezki was handed an even greater challenge this year as he had to work with more disorganized movement and brutal action (This is the Wild West after all.) yet he spun it into absolute gold, nailing action scenes without sacrificing the film’s fluent and slower pace. Unless the Academy somehow decides a triple is too much, Mr. Lubezki can sit tight for most of the evening.

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: The Revenant
The Oscar Goes to…: The Revenant

Best Writing-Original Screenplay

Bridge of Spies
Ex Machina
Inside Out
Spotlight 
Straight Outta Compton

Screenplay awards are actually very underrated in their importance. I think it says a lot about a film if it has the best writing in a single year, because it also means it’s got the best story, best characters, etc. I personally think Inside Out was the most creative film this year and if I were a part of the academy, would vote for it in a second, but Spotlight will definitely be the winner here. It has an intriguing story filled with rising tension and interesting characters. This might be the only award Spotlight takes home.

Shoulda Been Here: The Hateful Eight
I Would Vote For: Inside Out
The Oscar Goes to…: Spotlight

Spotlight is carefully crafted and professionally paced without losing some of the raw excitement and power of other films involving investigative journalists (Think All the President’s Men, which I believe Spotlight has surpassed). The characters are real and struggle with reconciling their day job with the morally hefty work it involves in a very balanced way that betrays Hollywood dramatics. Above all else, like any great story, it knows just when to start and just when to end to pack its punch and boy does it succeed.

(That Tarantino snub hurts. Poor guy. Poor crazy, crazy guy. Maybe the Academy’s a little wise to his act though.)

Shoulda Been Here: The Hateful Eight
I Would Vote For: Spotlight
The Oscar Goes to…: Spotlight

spotlight 2

Best Writing-Adapted Screenplay

The Big Short
Brooklyn
Carol
The Martian
Room

I first have to acknowledge the atrocity that is the snub of Aaron Sorkin’s masterful adaptation of Steve Jobs. This was probably the best writing of the year, Adapted or Original, and would be by vote. But since that is obviously not an option, I think The Big Short has this in the bag. It is the most interestingly crafted story of the year, breaking the fourth wall and using a nonlinear structure to make it as cool as it is. The Big Short is very well done, making it the hands down favorite to win Best Adapted Screenplay.

Shoulda Been Here: Steve Jobs
I Would Vote For: The Big Short
The Oscar Goes to…: The Big Short

Do I have to even say on this damn blog one more time how important of an ability it is to make a heavy topic bite size and intriguing without compromising its weight? Big Short breezes through the causes of the recession without failing to justly lampoon the blind “too big to fail” shrugs of Wall St. and the unbridled, ugly avarice of those who prey on average albeit financially illiterate Americans. It’s a dark and scary message….but it’s funny as hell.

(Academy, where’s Aaron Sorkin? We all get a little tired of walking and talking and quick silver tongue wit but guys, come on.)

Shoulda Been Here: Steve Jobs
I Would Vote For: The Big Short
The Oscar Goes to…: The Big Short

 

big short 5

Best Supporting Actor

Christian Bale, The Big Short
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies 
Sylvester Stallone, Creed

This is one of the awards that I’ve got no clue on. I could see any of Hardy, Rylance, Ruffalo and Stallone winning, though after Stallone won the Golden Globes, the scale is slightly tipped in his favor. Everyone likes a good underdog, comeback story and Stallone provides just that. Personally, I loved Hardy the most for his turn as the villainous John Fitzgerald in The Revenant. I would also be pleased to see Ruffalo win, though I think this is more of a long shot. Stallone looks like the favorite, but it is not a lock by any stretch of the imagination. If Jacob Tremblay had been nominated here, then I really would have loved to see him take home the win since I legitimately feel that he was better than anyone else in this category. Unfortunately, that’s not happening.

Shoulda Been Here: Jacob Tremblay, Room
I Would Vote For: Tom Hardy
The Oscar Goes to…: Sylvester Stallone

For lack of a more eloquent phrase: oh geez. This is the tightest category there is. My mind tells me Tom but my soul tells me Stallone (I love both.). But of course, as they said in the Film & Criticism class I never attended, you always have to go with your heart which means I’ve got to pick Sly. And, really, that’s not just the fanboy in me speaking: Stallone did a helluva job slipping back into the character as an aged and worn fighter who has lost a little more than just his groove. Is half of my decision here based on the image of seeing Sly getting up on that stage one more time and getting handed the gold? Maybe, maybe but I wouldn’t be absolutely despondent if Hardy took it either. This could go plenty of ways.

Shoulda Been Here: Jacob Tremblay, Room
I Would Vote For: Sylvester Stallone
The Oscar Goes to…: Sylvester Stallone

creed 3

Best Supporting Actress

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

Don’t be confused by my statement that Alicia Vikander was snubbed but she is also going to win. I haven’t seen The Danish Girl, but it looks to be a two horse race between her and Winslet and I think Vikander will get it due to the Academy’s apparent disdain for Steve Jobs as a film in general. Winslet did win the Golden Globes, but everything since then points to Vikander. I personally think she should have been nominated for Ex Machina rather than The Danish Girl, but it’s ok if she wins either way. I have a feeling she’ll get some votes for having a great year either way. This is another race that I’m saying will go one way, but could easily go the other way. In other words, my predictions are far from being a sure thing. It’s a pretty crazy year.

Shoulda Been Here: Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina
I Would Vote For: Kate Winslet
The Oscar Goes to…: Alicia Vikander

Behind every great narcissist master of the universe is a woman, right? Of course. Well, Winslet laid out a powerhouse performance as headstrong Joanna Hoffman, a key commander of the fledgling Apple and NeXT launches and an assistant and designated “work wife” to Jobs himself. Who else to bounce between professional and family squabbles with Fassbender’s Steve than this patient yet powerful portrait on Winslet’s part? Winslet does a terrific job acting as Jobs’ conscience/part-time mom and almost a voice of the audience against his corrosive attitude.

On top of that, not for nothing but the Eastern European accent doesn’t seem manufactured at all. (I don’t know I think doing a dialect is underratedly tricky and it deserved some recognition).

Shoulda Been Here: Helen Mirren, Trumbo
I Would Vote For: Kate Winslet
The Oscar Goes to…: Kate Winslet

Best Actor

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Matt Damon, The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

The two leading actor categories are probably the only two categories with clear cut winners this year, maybe with Best Animated Feature. Leonardo DiCaprio is the hands down favorite to finally get the Oscar that has alluded him for a long time. He has lost four times and been snubbed countless more times, so this is well deserved. If anyone has a chance to beat him, it’s Michael Fassbender, who I actually thought would win immediately following my viewing of the film, but don’t expect that to happen. His determination to get that Oscar is evident, though that’s probably because he literally eats bison liver… This role put him to the test, physically and mentally, and he was up for the challenge. For perhaps his finest performance to date, expect Leo to win Best Lead Actor and get a standing ovation for it.

Shoulda Been Here: Johnny Depp, Black Mass
I Would Vote For: Leonardo DiCaprio
The Oscar Goes to…: Leonardo DiCaprio

Leo, it’s time.

I honestly thought I’d be dead before it would happen. Leo winning the Oscar always seemed like the idea of a cure for cancer, the end of mass starvation or the invention of the flying car: it was the stuff of fanciful dreams for the future. But it appears God is a DiCaprio fan because he has given him one more big swing at the Academy and all signs are pointing to a home run. The Oscarless actor has swept all awards for his performance in The Revenant and do I dare find it a little darkly comedic that, after a series of well-crafted, well-researched performances on his part, it’s the grunt-y, blink-y one that gets the gold? Absolutely.

(As an aside, I just want to say that I really wish Fassbender hadn’t picked this year to dole out the Jobs performance he did. Some other time, buddy. You’ll get them.)

Shoulda Been Here: Johnny Depp, Black Mass
I Would Vote For: Leonardo DiCaprio
The Oscar Goes to…: Leonardo DiCaprio

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Charlotte Ramping, 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Like I said, the two leading acting categories are essentially set in stone, with 26 year old Brie Larson looking like the favorite for Best Actress. This one is a little closer, as Saoirse Ronan’s performance in Brooklyn was also very impressive, but in the end all she is is a very, very dark horse. She delivered one of the most powerful performances of the year as ‘Ma’, a woman kidnapped and trapped in a room with her young son. She shows maturity beyond her years and is inspiring from beginning to end. The category this year was a bit of a mess, with Rooney Mara and Alicia Vikander sneaking into the supporting actress category, but regardless, Larson is the clear winner for her heartbreaking performance in Room.

Shoulda Been Here: Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road
I Would Vote For: Brie Larson
The Oscar Goes to…: Brie Larson

Yeah, Brie Larson seems to be the favorite (Snagging a Golden Globe and conquering BAFTAs, the Oscars’ weird foreign cousin.) and it’s not hard to see why: Larson handles a relationship-driven film pretty spectacularly. She simultaneously captures the raw stress of being captive but also well exhibits the basic issues of motherhood while attempting to preserve your child’s well being through a hardship. Could she face a challenge from Ronan? Maybe but Larson did have get to flex her ability to be dynamic more, navigating some more heavy-hitting scenes.

Shoulda Been Here: Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road
I Would Vote For: Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
The Oscar Goes to…: Brie Larson

'Room' is a journey out of darkness, director says

Best Director

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

If you thought I was mad about Sorkin, then you don’t want to know how I feel about Ridley Scott not being nominated for Best Director. He clearly did a better job with the space odyssey that is The Martian than Lenny Abrahamson. Shame. As for the winner, I think this will be one of the tighter races of the night. Alejandro Inarritu seems like a very good pick to win, but he did win last year, and George Miller did an incredible job in making Mad Max the well rounded, ace of a film that it was. I think Inarritu will win in the end, because The Revenant was ultimately better than Mad Max and a more impressive film artistically. The Revenant is a favorite across the board, Best Director included. Miller is a sleeper, but I could definitely see him winning.

Shoulda Been Here: Ridley Scott
I Would Vote For: George Miller
The Oscar Goes to…: Alejandro G. Inarritu

I’ve always been enamored with lingering, slow shots that take their time with the world at hand. To me, they just instantly involve the audience. Well, I was a sucker for Birdman last year and the lengthy takes work even better here amidst the tumult of The Revenant. Long shots help to introduce the vicious environment the characters are combatting (If you want your heart to hammer a little, see the amazing opening scene of the movie at least) but also quietly build a certain apprehension and anxiety. It takes talent to make a grey, snowy forest seem absolutely awake and hellish instead of drab and, of course, we should all give a little respect to how exhausting the logistics of the filming process was (Also, Mr. Inarritu doesn’t do half bad with an action scene either.).

Shoulda Been Here: Ridley Scott
I Would Vote For: Alejandro G. Inarritu
The Oscar Goes to…: Alejandro G. Inarritu

Best Picture

The Big Short
Bridge of Spies

Brooklyn
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room
Spotlight

And here we are, the most important award of the night. I had never witnessed a battle as close as the Birdman-Boyhood battle last year, but this year is definitely more exciting than that. A three horse race between Spotlight, The Revenant, and The Big Short, I could see any of these films winning. Spotlight was my personal favorite, but it has lost steam since it first came out and is following Boyhood’s downward trajectory. The Revenant won Best Motion Picture Drama at the Golden Globes, but the GGs are not necessarily reliable because Birdman actually lost last year. The Big Short won the Producer’s Guild Award for Best Picture– which has correctly predicted the Best Picture winner for the past nine years (save for a tie between Gravity and 12 Years a Slave)– which means it has a shot as well. Ultimately, I’m going to go with The Revenant because it was the most ambitious film and seems like a favorite across the board. That being said, I would not be surprised or upset at any of the three winning. A lot of the categories this year are tight, which is why it is appropriate that Best Picture might just be the closest of them all.

Shoulda Been Here: Steve Jobs
I Would Vote For: Spotlight
The Oscar Goes to…: The Revenant
~Vig

To me, the Best Picture winner has to command surprise from the viewer above all else. It has to be such an overall feat of production that it renews that sense of wonder and thought to the moviegoing experience (It should make you ask “My God, how’d they even do/think of that?” more than few times.). Moreover, it should it be a film crafted so well that it warranted the visual medium; to tell it using any other way would corrupt the story itself. Well, this year, the champion by those metrics is The Revenant, a piece that surges to new heights of absorption and intensity. Think of all the moving parts to its success: absolutely every element of production massively contributes to its living and breathing world. A true Best Picture demands that all its cogs mesh together in perfect synergy and damned if Revenant doesn’t fit the bill. Congrats, Alejandro. I truly hope there’s space on your awards shelf.

Shoulda Been Here: Steve Jobs
I Would Vote For: The Big Short (I loved it, sorry.)
The Oscar Goes to…: The Revenant
~Zach

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