This Sunday is the biggest event of the year for movies. The 88 annual Academy Awards will begin live with the red carpet arrival at 7 p.m. on ABC, and everyone watching and in attendance will be wondering: Who will walk away with the Oscar? (Or maybe, how will Chris Rock handle the white-washing controversy, where all major category nominees don’t include any persons of color for the second straight year?) Controversies aside, here is your complete guide to Sunday’s gala…it’s everything you need to know heading into this year’s Oscars, just in case you still haven’t submitted your Oscar Prediction ballots.
Before we get started, be sure to join the Detroit Film Critics Society (DFCS) live during the red carpet and throughout the broadcast on Sunday, as the group will be Live Tweeting from their account, which you can follow, @detfilm. And then there is the DFCS’s “Far From Hollywood” Podcast, in which the latest episode is a full Oscar preview that you should definitely check out as well.
Overall – and no pun intended – this year’s Awards looks to be plain vanilla…most of the major awards will be landslide victories with few major upsets predicted. But here is what you can expect from this year’s Oscars:
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR. The Nominees: Sylvester Stallone (Creed), Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight), Christian Bale (The Big Short), Tom Hardy (The Revenant). Prediction: Mark it down, Sylvester Stallone will finally win for his portrayal of Rocky Balboa, nearly 40 years after the character was nominated in 1977 (Stallone lost Best Actor that year). The absolute long-shot here is Tom Hardy, but only Mark Rylance has an outside shot. And by outside shot, I don’t mean like Balboa vs. Apollo Creed, more like a snowball’s chance in Hell.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS. The Nominees: Rachel McAdams (Spotlight), Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight), Rooney Mara (Carol), Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs), Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl). Prediction: While the Academy loves them some Kate Winslet, it will be newcomer Alicia Vikander whom you can count on as a near sure-thing.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM. The Nominees: Inside Out, Anomalisa, When Marnie Was There, Boy and the World, Shaun The Sheep Movie. .Prediction: There will be riots in the street (OK, just in my house) if Inside Out doesn’t win. It was the overall best movie of the year, let alone animated. And I think most voters realize this as well, and will make sure that this instant-classic doesn’t end the night empty-handed. It would be a travesty.
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY. The Nominees: The Revenant, Mad Max: Fury Road, Carol, The Hateful Eight, Sicario. Prediction: This could be the third straight year that Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki wins the Oscar…he has won the previous two years, both under the guidance of director Alejandro Inarritu, for his work on Birdman and Gravity. With The Revenant, he definitely deserves it, although my vote would go to John Seale for Mad Max: Fury Road (Seale previously won for The English Patient in 1997.) But if The Revenant wins anything (and it will win a lot) it will be in this category.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN. The Nominees: Carol, Cinderella, The Danish Girl, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant. Prediction: Carol was such a spot-on re-creation of a recent time-gone-by, but I’m guessing this will be one of the many technical wins that will go to Mad Max: Fury Road.
BEST DIRECTOR. The Nominees: Alejandro Inarritu (The Revenant), Adam McKay (The Big Short), George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road), Tom McCarthy (Spotlight), Lenny Abrahamson (Room). Prediction: How on God’s green Earth can this award not go to George Miller, who has crafted one of the greatest visual achievements in film history? Because Alejandro Inarritu is the current Golden Boy of Hollywood…he’s the Jennifer Lawrence of filmmakers and people are just smitten with everything he has been involved in. Yes, read my review, but I stand by my take on The Revenant as a totally over-rated – albeit visually beautiful – second-rate revenge flick. Miller would win if there is any justice in the world, but I said the same last year about Richard Linklater. Who lost. To Inarritu.
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE. The Nominees: Amy, Cartel Land, The Look of Silence, What Happened, Miss Simone?, Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom. Prediction: I feel that there is a clear favorite here, as The Look of Silence was clearly the best documentary film of the year, to the point that I thought it would have been worthy of Best Picture, let alone Documentary. But something tells me that there will be more sympathy and attachment to Amy, a powerful and somber doc in its own right. It just doesn’t quite compare to The Look of Silence, but we’ll see in the Academy agrees.
SHORT FILM CATEGORIES: I did an entirely separate article on the three Short Film Categories: Animated, Live-Action and Documentary Short. You can find that article along with predictions here.
BEST FILM EDITING. The Nominees: The Big Short, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, Spotlight, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Prediction: When in doubt this year in any of the technical categories, go with Mad Max: Fury Road.
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM. The Nominees: Embrace of the Serpent (Colombia), Mustang (France), Son of Saul (Hungary), Theeb (Jordan), A War (Denmark). Prediction: Mustang has an outside shot, but look for Son of Saul to win…despite my personal thoughts that it was a one-trick pony.
BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING. The Nominees: Mad Max: Fury Road, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, The Revenant. Prediction: See Best Film Editing. Mad Max: Fury Road.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE. The Nominees: Bridge of Spies, Carol, The Hateful Eight, Sicario, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Prediction: Ennio Morricone is a shoe-in to win, even up against big names like John Williams and Thomas Newman. Morricone, the legendary composer, has been nominated five times previously, but will win this year.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG. Prediction: “Til It Happens To You” will most likely win (from the Documentary The Hunting Ground).
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN. The Nominees: Bridge of Spies, The Danish Girl, The Martian, The Revenant, Mad Max: Fury Road. Prediction: See Best Film Editing. Mad Max: Fury Road.
BEST SOUND EDITING. The Nominees: Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Sicario, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Prediction: See Best Film Editing. Mad Max: Fury Road.
BEST SOUND MIXING. The Nominees: Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Bridge of Spies, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Prediction: See Best Film Editing. Mad Max: Fury Road.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS. The Nominees: Ex Machina, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Prediction: If there is one technical award that might not go to Mad Max, it might be this one, where Star Wars has a real chance. But….See Best Film Editing. Mad Max: Fury Road.
BEST WRITING – ADAPTED SCREENPLAY. The Nominees: The Big Short, Brooklyn, Carol, The Martian, Room. Prediction: In another sure-thing category this year, look for The Big Short to win, hands-down.
BEST WRITING – ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY. The Nominees: Bridge of Spies, Ex Machina, Inside Out, Spotlight, Straight Outta Compton. Prediction: Man how I would love for Inside Out to nab the upset here, but mark it down: This award goes to Spotlight.
BEST ACTOR. The Nominees: Bryan Cranston (Trumbo), Matt Damon (The Martian), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant), Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs), Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl). Prediction: It is a travesty to think that Leonardo DiCaprio has yet to win an Oscar…but all that will change this year…I’d bet the house on him winning this year, despite my personal opinion that it’s his most one-dimensional role of his entire career. Him winning here is the easiest call of the night.
BEST ACTRESS. The Nominees: Cate Blanchett (Carol), Brie Larson (Room), Jennifer Lawrence (Joy), Charlotte Rampling (45 Years), Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn). Prediction: If the Academy had any guts at all, there would be a strong push for Charlotte Rampling, who for me, gave a clear winning performance this year. But we all know the Academy has no spine. The award will go to Brie Larson, who is an amazing young actress and who does a great job in Room…but her performance isn’t even the best performance of that movie (that would go to Jacob Tremblay, who was absolutely snubbed by the Academy in a deserving performance).
BEST PICTURE. The Nominees: The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, The Martian, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, Room, Spotlight. Prediction: This is where The Revenant will finally have its revenge. My prediction is while Mad Max: Fury Road sweeps through the night winning award after award, it will finally fall short with Inarritu wins for Best Director, following the night ending with The Revenant walking away with the top prize. Of course, this is not my opinion, just my prediction. I personally would rank The Revenant 8th out of the eight nominated films this year, and would even put it in the lower half of my favorite films of 2015. But hey, if only I ran the world. It’s sad too, that Spotlight will fall short, despite being the front-runner throughout most of the awards season. I’d say not to count it out, and The Revanant certainly isn’t a slam dunk, but it’s got most of the momentum. The only other film with even a fraction of a chance to pull the upset is The Big Short. If something crazy happens earlier in the night, like Christian Bale upsetting Sylvester Stallone, that may be a sign that The Big Short is more well-loved than we think.
So there you have it! Remember the DFCS will be live tweeting during the broadcast, @detfilm. Be sure to follow and enjoy the Oscars tonight!