What a rollercoaster this Oscar season has been. Never, since I’ve started tracking the awards, has there been this much uncertainty and disagreement about the state of the race this late in the game. The Oscars are in two weeks and we’re just starting to get an idea of what might win the top categories.
Since nomination morning, a number of the major precursor awards have started dolling out their own end of the year awards. In normal years, the annual winners of the Golden Globes (GG), Screen Actors Guild (SAG), Writers Guild of America (WGA), Directors Guild of America (DGA), Producers Guild of America (PGA), and British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTA) often give us a pretty clear picture of what will claim the gold on Oscar night. This year however they simply muddled the waters more.
The Golden Globes gave their favor to The Revenant for picture and director, ignoring then frontrunner Spotlight. It was assumed Spotlight would take the SAG ensemble award (their equivalent to best picture) but it was overlooked again with The Big Short pulling off a surprise victory. The Big Short started gaining a lot of steam with nominations, but few were predicting it to go the distance. That was until it won the PGA. This is HUGE. Just to put it in perspective, of the last ten winners of the PGA, the last eight have gone on to win the best picture oscar. Suddenly we had a frontrunner… and not the one anyone was expecting. However The Big Short has nominations in all the right places. Films rarely win best picture without an editing and screenplay nomination and The Big Short has both (unlike two other frontrunners, The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road). It was nominated for an ACE Eddie award where Spotlight was not, another box most eventual best picture winners check. Sure. It’s starting to line up now. The Big Short will win best picture.
Then the DGA happened. Like the PGA, the DGA has a fantastic track record predicting the Academy’s eventual winners. In the last ten years, the winner of the DGA has gone on to take the best directing Oscar nine times and the winning film has claimed best picture eight times. If The Big Short won here, it would all be over. …But it didn’t. In an unprecedented victory, Alejandro G. Iñárritu won the DGA for the second time in a row– a feat never before accomplished in the organization’s 67 year history. Well, it wasn’t a complete surprise. The Big Short may have support of SAG and PAG, but its hardly a directors vehicle. The Revenant on the other hand is an absolutely staggering accomplishment of beauty and brutality. It brought to life a world that, while completely real, most people have forgotten it existed, or perhaps more accurately what it took to exist in it. The win was a deserving one, solidifying Iñárritu as the frontrunner of the directing race over George Miller’s similar accomplishments on Mad Max: Fury Road. Directing does not often translate to picture however, just ask Ang Lee (two Oscar wins for director, zero for picture). It was now looking more and more likely that we’d be getting another picture/director split at the Oscars this year with Iñárritu claiming director for the second year running but losing film to The Big Short. That’s the message the Guilds left us with this year. Then last weekend, BAFTA weighed in. They are the British equivalent to the Oscars, and their winners often foreshadow what we can expect from Oscar because much of the voting bloc overlaps. Was The Big Short about to solidify its frontrunner status? Was Spotlight going to make a triumphant return? Nope. The Revenant claimed five awards including Best Picture, Director, Actor, Cinematography, and Sound paving the way for similar victories at the Oscars. What will happen next in the unpredictable race? Will The Big Short or Spotlight make a come back? Will Mad Max: Fury Road, already predicted to take home at least six technical Oscars rev its way past the competition and become the first action film ever to win the big prize? Will Alejandro G. Iñárritu make history by becoming the first man to direct two back-to-back best picture winners?
Tune into the Oscars on Feb. 28th to find out! My updated predictions for the major categories are below.
I predicted in my first ever post while Spotlight was the front runner that, “Every year we have an early front runner that is loved by critics and seems like a sure-fire contender for the win only to be surpassed by something flashier or more mainstream at the end.” Well ladies and gents, that’s happened. And, as I predicted, The Revenant seems to be the one to pass it. It’s gorgeous, powerful, harrowing and evocative. It’s unlike anything we’ve seen and it is without question the greatest technical achievement in film making this year. Last year, the greatest technical achievement, Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) was rewarded with four oscars, three of which were claimed by Iñárritu. He’s about to have another great night at the Oscars…
1. The Revenant
2. The Big Short
3. Mad Max: Fury Road
6. The Martian
7. Bridge of Spies
Winning two Oscars for directing is a feat only 19 men have ever accomplished. Only two have done it back to back. On Feb. 28th a third name will be added to that list; Alejandro G. Iñárritu. The Revenant is a masterful work and huge directing accomplishment. He won the Oscar for a similarly impressive work last year, but he seems destined for a repeat. Miller is the closest behind him, if there’s an upset he will be the recipient. But it’s hard to see anyone but Iñárritu winning at this point.
1. Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant
2. George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
3. Adam McKay – The Big Short
4. Tom McCarthy – Spotlight
5. Lenny Abrahamson – Room
Was there ever any doubt? This man’s Oscar wait is nearly over. But make sure and go play Red Carpet Rampage before it is!
1. Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
2. Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs
3. Bryan Cranston – Trumbo
4. Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl
5. Matt Damon – The Martian
Another no brainer. Larson has dominated the precursors winning just about every one that counts. Oscar is next.
1. Brie Larson – Room
2. Soairse Ronan – Brooklyn
3. Cate Blanchett – Carol
4. Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years
5. Jennifer Lawrence – Joy
Best Supporting Actor
It’s a little crazy to thing that Sylvester Stallone could be two weeks away from an Oscar win for a character he was first nominated for nearly 40 years ago. That narrative is what’s currently keeping him in frontrunner status as well as his GG win. Unlike the lead categories, supporting are a little trickier this year. Stallone won the globe, but he was not nominated for the SAG or the BAFTA (Idris Elba and Mark Rylance, respectively, claimed those). This makes it incredibly difficult to predict the Oscar winner with certainty. Seven of the last ten BAFTA winners went on to claim the prize at the Oscars as well which gives Rylance a HUGE boost. Likewise seven of the last ten SAG winners won the Oscar as well which would give Idris a huge boost… if he were nominated. The other wildcard here is Ruffalo who was not nominated for the Globe or SAG but lost the BAFTA to Rylance. One of these three men will claim the prize. Stallone has the narrative and the most bait-y role so I’m sticking with him but a Rylance upset or Ruffalo surprise is very possible.
1. Sylvester Stallone – Creed
2. Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies
3. Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight
4. Tom Hardy – The Revenant
5. Christian Bale – The Big Short
Best Supporting Actress
Like best supporting actor, this category is a little all over the place. Due to category confusion throughout the season, Mara and Vikander popped up in both supporting actress and actress categories throughout the race. This has lead to some inconsistent winners but based on what we’ve seen, this category has seemingly come down to Alicia Vikander and Kate Winslet. GG and BAFTA nominated Vikander in lead while SAG and Oscar nominated her in supporting. She won the SAG and the Oscar will likely follow suit, but Winslet could play the spoiler. Vikander gave absolutely the best supporting performance of the year regardless of gender in Ex Machina so I hope she’s rewarded on Feb. 28th even if it will be for the wrong film.
1. Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl
2. Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs
3. Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight
4. Rooney Mara – Carol
5. Rachel McAdams – Spotlight
Well there we are. I hope you enjoyed my break down of the race in its current state. I should have one more post before Oscar day picking the winners in every category as well as discussing who should win and who should have been nominated.
See you then!
Author: Radcliff Weir, @radcliffweir