Though the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has come under fire for its lack of choosing racially diverse nominees, predicting the winners is still fun for movie lovers across the globe. To differentiate from my Golden Globes predictions, I have also included a list of snubs for each category. Here are my predictions (listed in bold) for the 88th Annual Academy Awards:
Best Picture (Director)
- “The Big Short” (Adam McKay)
- “Bridge of Spies” (Steven Spielberg)
- “Brooklyn” (John Crowley)
- “Mad Max: Fury Road” (George Miller)
- “The Martian” (Ridley Scott)
- “The Revenant” (Alejandro González Iñárritu)
- “Room” (Lenny Abrahamson)
- “Spotlight” (Tom McCarthy): It is one of the most important narrative films of 2015. As Americans continue to yearn for truth, “Spotlight” chronicles the noble search for it. Though it is too early to call, “Spotlight” may occupy the same space as “All the President’s Men” as one of the most iconic newspaper films ever made.
Snubs: “Straight Outta Compton”; “Chi-Raq”; “Inside Out”; “Tangerine”; “Beasts of No Nation”; “Suffragette”
Best Director (Film)
- Adam McKay (“The Big Short”)
- George Miller (“Mad Max: Fury Road”)
- Alejandro González Iñárritu (“The Revenant”): No other director in the 21st century would be able to pitch a Western after making as phantasmagorical of a film as “Birdman” the year before. Iñárritu has made his mark in future film textbooks with his stellar work.
- Lenny Abrahamson (“Room”)
- Tom McCarthy (“Spotlight”)
Snubs: Ridley Scott (“The Martian”); F. Gary Gray (“Straight Outta Compton”); László Nemes (“Son of Saul”); Spike Lee (“Chi-Raq”); Cary Joji Fukunaga (“Beasts of No Nation”); Sarah Gavron (“Suffragette”)
Best Actor (Film)
- Bryan Cranston as Dalton Trumbo (“Trumbo”)
- Matt Damon as Mark Watney (“The Martian”)
- Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass (The Revenant): Though Fassbender was unmatched as tech giant Steve Jobs, DiCaprio’s reign as an Oscar winner will begin with “The Revenant.” Like Adrien Brody in “The Pianist”, Hugh Glass is a role that people will bring up whenever they want to talk about method acting.
- Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs (Steve Jobs)
- Eddie Redmayne as Lili Elbe/Einar Wegener (The Danish Girl)
Snubs: Michael B. Jordan (“Creed”); Will Smith (“Concussion”); Abraham Attah (“Beasts of No Nation”)
Best Actress (Film)
- Cate Blanchett as Carol Aird (“Carol”)
- Brie Larson as Joy “Ma” Newsome (“Room”): 2015 was a strong year for female actors as a result of the abundance of multi-dimensional roles. Cate Blanchett and Jennifer Lawrence are always good, and Saoirse Ronan’s performance is so far the high point of her career. But Sacramento native Brie Larson has broken from the teen genre bubble with an eruption of emotion and scars in “Room.”
- Jennifer Lawrence as Joy Mangano (“Joy”)
- Charlotte Rampling as Kate Mercer (“45 Years”)
- Saoirse Ronan as Eilis Lacey (“Brooklyn”)
Snubs: Lily Tomlin (“Grandma”); Amy Poehler (“Inside Out”); Teyonah Parris (“Chi-Raq”)
Best Supporting Actor (Film)
- Christian Bale as Michael Burry (“The Big Short”)
- Tom Hardy John Fitzgerald (“The Revenant”)
- Mark Ruffalo as Michael Rezendez (“Spotlight”)
- Mark Rylance as Rudolf Abel (“Bridge of Spies”)
- Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa (“Creed”): It is a true shame that the Academy has recognized Stallone for a character that he portrays for the seventh time over the superb work of Michael B. Jordan, who was not nominated in the Best Actor category for the title role. But Stallone’s coolness has made him comfortable as Rocky Balboa and it is a deserved homage to the legend that he created.
Snubs: Idris Elba (“Beasts of No Nation”); Seth Rogen (“Steve Jobs”); Jacob Tremblay (“Room”); Michael Keaton (“Spotlight”); Liev Schreiber (“Spotlight”); Nick Cannon (“Chi-Raq”)
Best Supporting Actress (Film)
- Jennifer Jason Leigh as Daisy Domergue (“The Hateful Eight”)
- Rooney Mara as Therese Belivet (“Carol”)
- Rachel McAdams as Sacha Pfeiffer (“Spotlight”)
- Alicia Vikander as Gerda Wegener (“The Danish Girls”)
- Kate Winslet as Joanna Hoffman (“Steve Jobs”): Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine described Winslet’s performance as “glorious,” and there is no synonym available that is comparable. As the no-nonsense, but always loyal Joanna Hoffman, Winslet is the only actress who could portray such a brave soul.
Snubs: Meryl Streep (“Suffragette”); Phyllis Smith (“Inside Out”); Angela Bassett (“Chi-raq”)
Best Original Screenplay
- “Bridge of Spies” by Matt Charman, Joel and Ethan Coen
- “Ex Machina” by Alex Garland
- “Inside Out” by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley and Ronnie del Carmen: Pixar truly outdid themselves with this charming tale about the inner emotions of a young girl’s mind. There was a chemistry that was perfected by the scribes that cannot be replicated.
- “Spotlight” by Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer
- “Straight Outta Compton” by Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff, S. Leigh Savidge and Alan Wenkus
Best Adapted Screenplay
- “The Big Short” by Adam McKay and Charles Randolph (based on the book of the same name by Michael Lewis)
- “Brooklyn” by Nick Hornby (based on the novel of the same name by Colm Tóibín)
- “Carol” by Phyllis Nagy (based on the novel “The Price of Salt” by Patricia Highsmith)
- “The Martian” by Drew Goddard (based on the novel “The Martian” by Andy Weir)
- “Room” by Emma Donoghue (based on her novel of the same name): This movie is a triumphant piece on the endurance of the human spirit as a result of being held hostage for years. Instead of looming on the horrors of the situation, Donoghue explores the inner workings of the female victim. Imagine the “Inside Out” characters in the mind of Ma; wouldn’t that be cool?
Snubs: “Steve Jobs” by Aaron Sorkin; “Chi-Raq” by Spike Lee; “Beasts of No Nation” by Cary Joji Fukunaga
Best Original Score (Composer)
- “Bridge of Spies” (Thomas Newman)
- “Carol” (Carter Burwell)
- “The Hateful Eight (Ennio Morricone)
- “Sicario” (Jóhann Jóhannsson)
- “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (John Williams): “Star Wars” has always relied on the strength of its score to finish painting a galaxy far, far away. The latest installment of the beloved franchise has awakened with electricity the mind of Master – with a capital “M” – John Williams, who while exploring known themes, discovered new ones.
Snubs: “The Danish Girl” (Alexandre Desplat); “Steve Jobs” (Daniel Pemberton); “He Named Me Malala” (Thomas Newman)
Best Original Song (Film)
- “Earned It” (“Fifty Shades of Grey”)
- “Manta Ray” (“Racing Extinction”)
- “Simple Song #3” (“Youth”)
- “Til it Happens to You” (“The Hunting Ground”): The song and the film are fueled with powerful titles. “The Hunting Ground” is a documentary about rape on college campuses, and its title strikes what campuses across the country have become for young women. Lady Gaga aids the anger with “Til it Happens to You,” which has been seasoned with betrayal, resulting in a piece that yells furiously. It expresses how no one will ever understand sexual assault unless it happens to him or her.
- “Writing’s on the Wall” (“Spectre”)
Snubs: “See You Again” (“Furious 7”)
Best Documentary Feature (Director)
- “Amy” (Asif Kapadia)
- “Cartel Land” (Matthew Heineman): This chilling documentary about the border between the United States and Mexico plays more like an action film narrative than a documentary. With camera crews embedded on both sides, it creates a rush of adrenaline for viewers.
- “The Look of Silence” (Joshua Oppenheimer)
- “What Happened, Miss Simone?” (Liz Garbus)
- “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom” (Evgeny Afineevsky)
Snubs: “All Things Must Pass”; “The Hunting Ground”; “Where to Invade Next”; “He Named Me Malala”; “Welcome to Leith”; “The True Cost”; “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief”
Best Animated Feature Film (Director)
- “Anomalisa” (Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson)
- “Boy & the World” (Alě Abreu)
- “Inside Out” (Pete Docter): The two settings are San Francisco and the mind of a young girl. Yet in “Inside Out” the two seem to morph into one metaphor for change and growth. The voice cast is of the highest order and the quality is quintessentially Pixar.
- “Shaun the Sheep Movie” (Mark Burton and Richard Starzak)
- “When Marnie Was There” (Hiromasa Yonebayashi)
Snubs: “The Good Dinosaur”
Follow Zach on Twitter at @ZFRAnd for live Oscar updates.