The 88th Academy Awards, hosted by Chris Rock, are rapidly approaching on Sunday, February 28, 2015. Who or what will walk off that stage with an Oscar? On this website, I’ve been tabulating all of the minor and lead-up award winners in all of the Oscar categories since last November on my 2016 Awards Tracker. Those results have been my data trends to predict what films are going to win. Through several editorial features, here is my analysis to formulate my official Academy Award predictions. In this fourth post, we look at the writing and directing awards covering Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Stick with me and I will win you your Oscar pool!
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The nominees: Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, and Joel Coen for “Bridge of Spies,” Alex Garland for “Ex Machina,” Pete Docter, Meg LaFauvre, and Josh Cooley for “Inside Out,” Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy for “Spotlight,” Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff, S. Leigh Savidge, and Alan Wenkus for “Straight Outta Compton”
AWARDS TRACKER (number of prior award wins in this category): 30- “Spotlight,” 5- “Inside Out,” and seven others with one win.
Who was snubbed: Cinema snobs are probably going to push for Quentin Tarantino to be here for “The Hateful Eight.” I won’t be one of them. His excessive and meandering film was a weak effort. A real snub goes to a film like “Love and Mercy,” written by Oren Movermann and Michael Alan Lerner, which went entirely un-nominated.
Happy to be there: Any time an animated feature can step up and play with the big boys in a Top Eight category marks a substantial achievement. That’s what the Pixar team behind “Inside Out” can hang their hat on. Following the path of “Ratatouille,” “Wall-E,” and “Up,” the presence of “Inside Out” shows the talent and crossover respect that follow the Pixar brand.
Who should win and will win: This is all “Spotlight” in one of the absolute locks of the night. Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer’s work in “Spotlight” is the best screenplay for the best film in this group. It stands miles ahead of the other nominees. Hopefully, this isn’t the only award it wins all night, but it might be (unfortunately).
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The nominees: Phyllis Nagy for “Carol,” Drew Goddard for “The Martian,” Emma Donaghue for “Room,” Charles Randolph and Adam McKay for “The Big Short,” and Nick Hornby for “Brooklyn”
AWARDS TRACKER (number of prior award wins in this category): 12- “The Big Short,” 7- “Room,” 6- “The Martian,” 5- “Carol,” and two others with one win.
Who was snubbed: The top-shelf name that missed this very competitive field is Aaron Sorkin for his biography adaptation that infused “Steve Jobs.” His screenplay was the upset winner at the Golden Globes, but was left out at the Oscars. Honestly, the five best adapted screenplays are here, right where they are supposed to be.
Happy to be there: With the fewest Oscar nominations (three) among these nominees, the happiest member of the party is “Brooklyn,” adapted by Nick Hornby from Colm Toibin’s novel. Without an upset here, next to very low odds for Best Actress or Best Picture, “Brooklyn,” my #3 film of 2015 will likely go home empty-handed from the entire evening.
Who should win: Anyone who’s a fan of this site and my social media pages knows that I adore everything about “Room.” Emma Donaghue deserves a tremendous amount of credit for adapted her own heart-wrenching novel into a stellar screenplay, her first. It’s the kind of story that deserves Oscar’s love and affection. No matter how much I wish for it, “Room” is going to be second place..
Who will win: For a large part of the awards season, “Room,” “The Martian,” and “The Big Short” have been trading minor/major wins. “The Martian” opened with the National Board of Review win and “Room” has swept many regional critics awards. The biggest wins, however, have gone to Adam McKay and Charles Randolph for “The Big Short,” namely the Critics Choice Award and the WGA Award. The WGA alone is enough to seal the Oscar victory.
The nominees: Adam McKay for “The Big Short,” George Miller for “Mad Max: Fury Road,” Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for “The Revenant,” Lenny Abrahamson for “Room,” Tom McCarthy for “Spotlight”
AWARDS TRACKER (number of prior award wins in this category): 26- Miller, 6- McCarthy, 6- Inarritu, 5- Todd Haynes for “Carol,” 3- Ridley Scott for “The Martian,” and four others with one win.
Who was snubbed: The two biggest contenders that were left out of the deep competition were Ridley Scott for “The Martian” and Todd Haynes for “Carol.” Those two films couldn’t be any more different, but both were excellent filmmaking challenges in their own genres. National Board of Review Best Director winner Ridley Scott can probably hold a bigger beef than Haynes. By the way, who is Steven Spielberg?! Some famous dude, right?
Happy to be there: “Room” is shaping up to this year’s equivalent of “Whiplash” as the Little-Engine-That-Could indie film. Lenny Abrahamson’s addition to this field is a coup and worthy surprise. He won’t win, but he presence says a great deal about the admiration for smaller films and the strong spell “Room” cast on its audiences.
Who should win: When you look at the data, this should be a shoe-in win for George Miller for “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Ever since the main awards started to convene, the huge early Oscar buzz for Miller’s film has cooled to nearly a stand-still. For the wild creation that is “Mad Max: Fury Road,” Miller probably should win. This is his best career shot, but he’s being passed up by a guy who’s already been to the top of the mountain.
Who will win: He doesn’t need more Oscars after taking home three last year for “Birdman” (Original Screenplay, Best Director, Best Picture), but Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu of “The Revenant” is the new favorite to win the Best Director Oscar for the second consecutive year. A repeat such as this has only happened twice in Oscar history (John Ford in 1940 and 1941, Joseph Mankiewicz in 1949 and 1950). Inarritu’s recent win from the Directors Guild of America (DGA) pushes him past Miller.