This year has brought a wealth of artistic achievements. This overabundance in prestige has made it hard to predict winners, there are no clear front-runner in most categories. I’m happy that this year’s film industry has been so prolific that all the films in each category stand squarely together. So, I am going to do something different. I will just name my personal picks for the winner and occasionally offer (in bold) what will win. Although, it all seems to be very up in the air.
Best Motion Picture, Drama
Nominees: Carol; Mad Max: Fury Road; The Revenant; Room; Spotlight
My Win: Room
In my Top 10 of 2015 posts, I cited room as an uplifting cinematic journey. The amount of talent from Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay overwhelms the small space that confines them. Room is unfortunately a familiar horror story, we hear it in the news all the time. Yet the film transcends despair and basks in the glorious light of love and family. Room is universal, we can all imagine ourselves in that situation and it offers questions about how we would cope or what would it be like to see the world we’re so used to for the first time. While I feel Room deserves to win, the nail-biting investigative drama Spotlight will likely take home the prize.
Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Nominees: The Big Short; Joy; The Martian; Spy; Trainwreck
My Win: The Martian
A lot of times the comedy award is really a prestigious film with some comedic elements. Thus, I believe The Martian will take home the prize usurping actual comedies Spy and Trainwreck. The humor served The Martian well, transforming a Cast Away in space into a light-hearted and even fun adventure. Joy was a sloppy mess, but The Big Short also has a neck-and-neck chance to take home the prize.
Best Actor, Motion Picture Drama
Nominees: Bryan Cranston (Trumbo); Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant); Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs); Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl); Will Smith (Concussion)
My Win: Leonardo DiCaprio
Surprisingly, this has not been a strong year for the actor category. (Finally some meaty roles for the women instead!) Perhaps this will work in Leo’s favor when the Oscars role around. Finally, the question to “What does Leo have to do to win an Oscar?” may be answered. Apparently it’s eating raw bison liver and rumors of being raped by a bear. DiCaprio should and will most likely take home the prize, his only competition at this point being Bryan Cranston for Trumbo.
Best Actress, Motion Picture Drama
Nominees: Cate Blanchett (Carol); Brie Larson (Room); Rooney Mara (Carol); Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn); Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)
My Win: Saoirse Ronan
The toughest category this year is Best Actress, perhaps the ripple effect of cries for better female parts. (Although there are no WOC…) There is stiff competition, Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett do their usual best in Carol, but may split the vote. Alicia Vikander was the bright spot and soul of The Danish Girl, which ultimately proved to be hollow and offensive. It is hard to choose between Brie Larson and Saoirse Ronan, for both delivered equally on par stunning performances. However, I feel Ronan edges Larson out slightly.
Best Actor, Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominees: Christian Bale (The Big Short); Steve Carell (The Big Short); Matt Damon (The Martian); Al Pacino (Danny Collins); Mark Ruffalo (Infinitely Polar Bear)
My Win: Matt Damon
Al Pacino is my favorite actor and I’m glad to see him nominated for Danny Collins, some of his best work in years in a surprisingly sweet and heartfelt film. But The Martian overshadows all of these performances, and Matt Damon will likely take home the prize for shouldering the bulk of the film all by his lonesome. Without Damon the film may not have worked.
Best Actress, Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominees: Jennifer Lawrence (Joy); Melissa McCarthy (Spy); Amy Schumer (Trainwreck); Maggie Smith (The Lady in the Van); Lily Tomlin (Grandma)
My Win: Amy Schumer
Jennifer Lawrence was fantastic in Joy, but it’s nothing new from her other David O. Russell work. Likely, Amy Schumer will continue to ride her wave of success and pick up a trophy for her self-written role Trainwreck. She truly owned this role. Schumer is one of the finest comedians today, giving well-needed critiques of the divisiveness and narrow-minded notions of gender roles of our current society.
Best Supporting Actor, Motion Picture
Nominees: Paul Dano (Love & Mercy); Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation); Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies); Michael Shannon (99 Homes); Sylvester Stallone (Creed)
My Win: Paul Dano
I will admit I have only seen two of these performances, Stallone and Mark Rylance. In my opinion, Walton Goggins should be up here for The Hateful Eight and Mark Ruffalo for Spotlight. However, I have heard that Paul Dano, a longtime phenomenal supporting character actor that deserves some recognition, gives the performance of his career as Brian Wilson.
Best Supporting Actress, Motion Picture
Nominees: Jane Fonda (Youth); Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight); Helen Mirren (Trumbo); Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina); Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)
My Win: Alicia Vikander
The true competition is between Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alicia Vikander. Jennifer Jason Leigh was incredible as Daisy. She was willing to nakedly expose her ugliness and hatred, while also providing some of the film’s greatest moments and laughs. However, Alicia Vikander was truly otherworldly as Ava. Keep in mind that Vikander is doing those movements herself, employing ballet techniques to move as if she truly is a robot. There is no CGI trickery involved with that. Vikander gives one of the most stunning portrayals of artificial life-a human playing a robot playacting as human-ever seen on film.
Nominees: Todd Haynes (Carol); Alejandro González Iñárritu (The Revenant); Tom McCarthy (Spotlight); George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road); Ridley Scott (The Martian)
My Win: George Miller
Okay, feel free to crucify me now. I didn’t like Mad Max: Fury Road. However, obviously I recognize the impeccable craftsmanship and vision that went behind the film, almost unprecedented. George Miller’s vision surpasses most of his peers in this category. His toughest competition is Haynes and Iñárritu, both of whom could possibly take home the prize. But Mad Max will likely race to the finish.
Best Animated Feature Film
Nominees: Anomalisa; The Good Dinosaur; Inside Out; The Peanuts Movie; Shaun the Sheep Movie
My Win: Inside Out
Inside Out‘s toughest competition is Kaufman’s Anomalisa. But the universal Pixar masterpiece is likely to take home the award. As I’ve said in my Top 10 of the year, Inside Out is a creative and poignant work of art that transcends age, time and gender.
Nominees: Emma Donoghue (Room); Thomas McCarthy & Josh Singer (Spotlight); Adam McKay & Charles Randolph (The Big Short); Aaron Sorkin (Steve Jobs); Quentin Tarantino (The Hateful Eight)
My Win: Emma Donoghue
This is yet another tough category. Tarantino’s latest has too many flaws to be rewarded. Sorkin does an incredible job with Steve Jobs (although I feel it was better suited for theater…) but his work from The Social Network likely overshadows another chance to win right now. For me, Room was a book that seemed unadaptable, especially with its five-year-old first person narrator. But Donoghue expertly adapts her work.
ALSO: Crossing my fingers for Jon Hamm in Mad Men and Oscar Isaac in Show Me a Hero!